Work takes up a lot of our time, or around 92,120 hours over our lifetime, to be exact. So, it’s not hard to work out why being happy at work is so important. Studies have found that happy workers are healthier, more productive, and even more likely to get promoted.
So how exactly do you improve your happiness at work? While many companies offer perks like flexible work hours, free snacks, comfortable seating, or even making the office pet-friendly, I’m left wondering: what about tech?
While it’s not the first thing that springs to mind when you think about happiness — and has even been under fire for hijacking our minds and redefining human connection — there are many tools out there designed with happiness in mind.
In celebration of the International Day of Happiness on March 20th, we asked our community to share their favorite tech-tools that keep them happy at work. No one had one single favorite, so here are 10 tools designed to improve your productivity, health, creativity, social life, and ultimately, your happiness.
1. Headspace — Squeeze meditation into your schedule
Everyone’s go-to when it comes to a quick-fix of happiness is Headspace, a well-known app that terms itself as “a personal meditation guide, right in your pocket.” Providing meditation in bite-size chunks means that zen is no longer reserved for the full-time yogis.
Bob Kreefft, a developer at recruitment software company Homerun is a big fan. “Running your own startup means processing a lot of input all day long. Headspace offers me a daily moment to let go of everything and reconnect with myself.”
Christine Fountain-Hardick, founder of Upward, a tech-team consultancy agreed: “Headspace is probably the most powerful tool that all teams should use; when you de-stress and get a clear mind, you’re able to make (hard) decisions or work on challenges infinitely better.”
2. 15five — Helps celebrate wins
Another tool Christine loves is an app specifically designed for employee feedback. “Making feedback an explicit part of your culture is a great thing to do for a team. A team feedback tool focussed on performance that I would very much recommend is 15five. I love the focus within this tool on celebrating (personal) wins together with your colleagues. And it’s also possible to track the status of your OKRs in there.”
3. Bullet Journal Companion — Journalling for the OCDs among us
Bullet journaling is a type of journaling that combines a to-do list, a planner, and a diary. It’s great for those who love their journals (real-life btw) looking flawless. Lily Stamenova, people and finance ops at FeedbackFruits really enjoys the framework.
“It helps me by creating more ‘brain’ capacity to reflect and think about WHY I do things, instead of wasting it on remembering WHAT are the things I need to do,” Lily explained.
To get a grip of the (overly complicated) process of bullet journaling you can learn more on their website. Or, if you need to be reminded to reflect, the Bullet Journal Companion app might be right for you.
4. Moodnotes — Track your moods and thought patterns
On a similar note, Moodnotes is an app that lets you track your mood and identify what influences it, claiming it can help you to develop healthier thinking habits. “It provides interesting insights against your current mood. It’s like a mobile diary by the swipe of a finger. Still, it needs data to be interesting, and I’ve found it hard to enter data about my mood at specific times during the day. Guess I’m not at all good with routines,” explained TQ resident and startup liaison Marijn.
“Also, people might be shy telling others about their moods since it’s a bit of a taboo to express that you’re unhappy — that might be the thing apps like this have against them.” But if you’re fine with opening up to an app, Moodnotes might be right for you.
5. Hotjar — Heatmaps for your website
Are you after a ‘big picture’ view about how to improve your website’s user experience and performance? Then Hotjar is probably what you’re looking for: a tool that reveals the online behavior of your users through feedback and analytics. The coolest part of Hotjar is their use of heat maps to visually represent where your users click, scroll, and tap.
As Jules van Bruggen, founder of babysitting platform Sitly explained: “No questions anymore about ‘why the fuck are there so many exits at a certain step in the funnel,’ Hotjar shows you in a couple of minutes.”
6. Pinterest — Visual pleasure
CEO of TNW, Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten is very open about his occasional struggles with unhappiness but believes feeling stressed is just an inherent part of being an entrepreneur. While working from a hammock is one of his tactics to de-stress in the office, he also uses Pinterest.
While the social network is typically used as an online pinboard to collect images about things that interest you, for Boris, looking at images of nice things has a calming effect. “It sounds tacky but it really helps me relax as I browse interior design photos and other pretty images.”
7. Apple Watch heart rate monitor — Keeps you alive
Another unconventional tool Boris uses to help him relax at work is the Apple Watch Heart Rate monitor. “Just watching my heart rate makes it go slower. I once had a terrible meeting and in my anxiety, I checked my pulse and it was at 120. So, I just watched it as it dropped down and I felt fine again at 70.”
8. Slack — Brings the team together
While for many, Slack is so ingrained in our day we forget to appreciate it, for Joyce Lim, HR manager of Tripaneer, the novelty is yet to wear off. “What gives you the flexibility of getting people together for conversations and collaborations without the formal fuss of having a physical meeting or long email threads? Slack does precisely this; all in the name of keeping you happy at work. It’s designed to be intuitive while keeping things productive and fun!”
Joyce also thinks Slack makes people happier because it brings the team together. “Most of our internal communication (announcements, updates, project discussions, daily conversations, etc.) at Tripaneer take place on Slack given that our team members not only work in Amsterdam but also remotely. Hence, Slack is indeed our REAL workspace. I use it to set group reminders, search for old communication threads, send files to my colleagues, link up to other tools, and of course for daily conversations with my team — emoji and gifs FTW!”
9. Buffer — Everything in one place
As social media is a big part of my job, I really understand the deep satisfaction of having everything in one place. Instead of having to log into five different platforms and post the same thing five times, you can do it once, and schedule it in advance thanks to Buffer.
Jules from Sitly agrees: “Just do your social posting once and then it’s posted automatically across all channels.” Cut out the frustration of repetitive tasks and become happier, it can’t get much simpler than that.
10. And a tool to keep an eye on: Join
Christine from Upward also told me about an app in its early stages of development called Join. Founded by Dan Fennessey behind PartyWith (formerly Party With A Local) — an app connecting people who love to party — Dan is well aware of the importance of connecting people offline.
“As most social platforms encourage online-only connections we realized there’s a much bigger and growing need to connect people offline for things like sport, food & drink, the arts, and more,” Dan explained over email.
As many of us spend more time at work than with our own families, helping employees make meaningful connections at work is Dan’s mission with Join. “By creating meaningful social connections at work we can provide companies with tangible business benefits: improving employee experience, engagement, retention, foster inclusion, break department silos, encourage collaboration, uncover innovation, and more,” he continued.
By creating a profile on Join with your social interests, you can filter, connect, and organize to meet offline with like-minded people in your company. Intrigued to see how this pans out.
So next time you’re struggling with productivity, mental fog, stress, or creativity at work, at least one tool on this list is bound to help. But whatever you decide to do, make sure it makes you happy.